Saturday, 14 January 2012

Custom Pickguard

From time to time I get a request to make a custom pickguard. Sometimes these are a different shape from the original, but usually the customer wants a different look or pickup layout.

This pickguard was made for a customer with an Ibanez ATK. The original pickguard was 3-ply black, and the custom pickguard would be white pearloid.

The first step is to trace the original pickguard on thin MDF and cut it out on the scroll saw.

More cutting, almost there.


The next step is hand shaping. You can test-fit the template to the bass this way.

Done. The edge is soaked in superglue to allow a defined surface for the router.

Next, I trace and cut the pickguard again, but on thick MDF.

Main template, rough cut. I'll use the thin template to rout the thick template to size.

The first template is attached to the main template with strong double-sided tape and routed.

Finally, the pickguard blank is attached to the main template and rough-cut to shape.

It's then trimmed flush and bevelled with a 45-degree bit.

Countersinking the screw holes.

Test-fitting the screws.

Done! The pickguard fits perfectly.

Making a pickguard without large guitar production equipment is a slow process, but can yield professional results. It's dusty work, and one screw-up means you have to start all over again, but once you have that template made it's useable for half a dozen or so more pickguards. For the more common pickguard shapes I make the template in perspex for long-term use.

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